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Carroll County Education

Carroll County lawmakers call on State Board of Education to immediately rescind ‘unscientific’ school mask mandate

Carroll County’s delegation to the Maryland General Assembly joined Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday in urging the State Board of Education to rescind its school masking policy, in light of recent improving health metrics following a COVID-19 surge tied to the omicron variant.

The Carroll County delegation wrote that the state board should “call an immediate emergency meeting to rescind” what the delegation called an “unscientific mask mandate.”

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“The facts are clear, cloth masks do not stop COVID-19 transmission,” states the letter, signed by Sen. Justin Ready, Del. Susan Krebs, Del. Haven Shoemaker and Del. April Rose, all Republicans who represent District 5 in Carroll County.

“... For any person who is especially vulnerable, wearing ... N95 masks will protect them, the wearer, without forcing children as young as pre-school, who are at statistically no risk for serious COVID cases, to wear a mask,” the statement continued.

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The Republican governor in a letter delivered Thursday cited the widespread availability of vaccines and improvements in the state’s COVID-19 health metrics this month. The state’s 7-day positivity rate was 5.12%, with 986 people hospitalized by the virus.

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The state Board of Education approved an emergency regulation in December that creates an “off ramp” to a statewide mask mandate for school systems to allow students to go without masks. Mandates may be lifted if a county’s community spread of COVID-19 is moderate or if vaccination rates are above 80% in the school or the surrounding community. Community transmission is high in every Maryland county, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Carroll delegation stated that “the masking of young children, in their most formative years of social, cognitive and language development is particularly egregious.” They also stood strongly against the state board’s actions in December that they say “rescinds local authority,” and said applauded the Carroll County school board, whose members are seeking to remove the mask mandate in the county’s schools.

Hogan’s letter comes a day after he said he would ask the State Board of Education to revisit the school masking policy at its meeting later this month.

The Maryland State Board of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday, but said earlier in the week that its members are “watching with optimism as Covid-19 metrics improve in the State because our goal has been and continues to be to provide safe in person instruction for our children and staff with minimal disruptions.”

The board reviews COVID-19 metrics at its meetings each month in order to assess the need for such regulations, according to the statement.

Other states including Delaware, New Jersey and Oregon announced in recent days they would end school mask mandates some time in March. Connecticut plans to end its school mandate by the end of February. All four states will allow local school districts to maintain mandates if they choose.

Baltimore Sun reporter Lillian Reed contributed to this report.


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